Since their conception in the Ethereum blockchain in 2015, NFT has spread from leisure economics into digital ownership — sprouting new financial opportunities. Usually, players gained revenue through auctions and trading items. Now, they can earn money by playing blockchain games (also called NFT-based games or NFT games). With the booming trend and interest in NFT, many are looking to create their own NFT game. But what are the things you need to know before making one? Here’s what our resident experts think.
Why NFT Games Interest People
For context, fungible tokens are currency — an exchangeable part of a real economy. We can swap them into different currencies and use them in daily transactions, such as trading and purchases. Non-fungible tokens, however, are indivisible and unique. You can’t exchange one NFT with another, since each has a different value. Scarcity and rarity in-game, NFTs are worth a hefty sum for those who seek it.
Traditionally, in-game purchases exist inside a single gaming world. They are also non-transferable. But NFT-based games gave players greater ownership of their investment. Using blockchains as the framework, NFTs are interoperable between worlds. If one gaming platform collapses, your assets will be safe in the blockchain. They will still be available for purchase and undisturbed by external interference. NFTs also have a very transparent record upon issuance. You can see the real-time records of owners, prices, and sales on every platform.
In addition to easy verification, NFT-based games also allow players to sell without needing to involve third parties. It changes the gaming world and turns games into a two-way street in the financial sense. Other than being able to earn, players will also have a say if in-game assets underwent changes — as they now own some of the assets. There’s a good chance of players becoming the primary financial beneficiaries and decision-makers in the blockchain gaming ecosystem. When it happens, you need to be able to accommodate them.
Not All NFT-based Games Survive
Like many things on the internet, the rise of NFT games started with cats. In 2017, Ethereum launched CryptoKitties as the first blockchain-powered game. It enables users to collect, breed, and auction digital kitties for whatever price the market sees fit. The prices skyrocketed with a dragon-like CryptoKitty sold in 2018 for 600 ETH (ether, the currency used in Ethereum) or over US$1.4 million at today’s prices. Even in its fourth year, CryptoKitties shows no sign of slowing down. Cryptokitties NFTs are sold for US$358 on average, and some reach over US$600K. The success of CryptoKitties has brought fellow game developers to dabble in NFT games, such as Axie Infinity and The Sandbox. It even reached mainstream titles, such as the upcoming PS5 title, Six Dragons.
On the other hand, Alien Worlds’ token was listed on Binance in April 2021 and had a 90% drop in the same month. Their price continued to drop all across the following months. Cryptoblades has similar results, with a 92% plunge in prices at their lowest point. So why does this happen?
Money might make the world go round, but it can’t be the only appeal for a play-to-earn economy to survive. NFT games rely on a balance of player influx and outflux — and to maintain that balance, you’ll need more than promises of profit. When the influx of new players is too low, combined with a high outflux of players cashing out their NFTs, the game economy will crash.
Why Game Design is Important for NFT Games
An NFT game economy is no different from real economics: if no one sees value in playing it, then it will collapse. As more and more play-to-earn games pop up, players will be picky about where they’ll invest their time and money in. That’s why a game and its assets should be interesting enough to draw players and keep them playing. Enjoyability and balanced rewards are the key to future sustainability.
Axie Infinity is one of the most successful NFT games in the current market. Players collect Axies and breed them to get new Axie traits, then use them in various battle scenarios. Some traits are more desirable than others. To discover new trait combinations, you need Super Love Potions that you can win from battles. With its infinite combinations and progression gameplay, it’s a perfect marriage between well-planned game mechanics and play-to-earn opportunities. Selling your baby Axies to the market could give you a considerable amount of profit. The most expensive Axie sold at 300 ETH or US$130,000 in 2020!
Immersion Before Profit
Based on these observations, these are our advice in designing a blockchain game:
- Gameplay before financial profit. Think of the concept, world, and gameplay mechanics first before the chance for profit. Blockchain games need to balance cost and revenue with the enjoyment of players, since the value of game-based NFT directly correlates with how enjoyable and interesting the game is.
- Narrow down the financial gap, and create equal opportunities. When designing a blockchain game, you are designing an economic system. To make it sustainable, use a fair and accessible reward system for both the players and the game. A system to balance prices for incoming players and those cashing out should also be incorporated into the game.
- Consult with experts in gaming. Financial gain may be the main appeal of blockchain games, but relatability and immersion are needed to maintain engagement and turn a game into a long-term investment for players. Understanding game mechanics and player motivations would be crucial in a blockchain game, so involving experts from the game industry would be great.
Agate is the biggest gaming company in Indonesia, and we want to elevate blockchain games — from just a game where you earn to a playable source of income that you want to be a part of. We aim to create an immersive world with engaging gameplay that utilizes the blockchain to its full potential.
Interested in making your own NFT games? Get in touch with our experts in play and find out how we can take your ideas to the next level!